Stephen King has added an impressive amount of work to the horror genre since he published his first novel in 1976. And almost 45 years later, his impact and popularity are still growing, and the list of upcoming film and television adaptations of his work seems is never-ending.
To celebrate Stephen King’s birthday, I’ve picked my favorite female characters from all his TV and movie adaptations. King creates characters that stick with you long after you turn the television off, and every entry on this list is a kick-ass woman who has been brought to life from the pages of King’s novels.
10. Carrie White from Carrie (1976)
The star of King’s first novel, and subsequently his first movie adaptation, Carrie White is the original badass King woman. However, that doesn’t mean she gets an easy time of it throughout the movie. Carrie is bullied by her classmates, suffers the embarrassment of getting her first period in front of them, and has to go home to her abusive and over-religious mother.
While Carrie thinks her life is getting slightly better when she gets asked to the prom by high school hunk Tommy, she soon finds out it’s all part of a cruel prank by bully Chris and her friends.
This final assault on Carrie is what pushes her to finally take a stand against all the hateful people in her life and use her newly-formed telekinetic powers to help her along the way.
9. Abra Stone from Doctor Sleep (2019)
While The Shining (1980) showed us how negatively having the ‘shine’ can affect a child, Doctor Sleep is here to show us what happens when you’re able to take control of the power.
Abra possesses the same sort of powers as Danny Torrance, but she is a lot more powerful. She can sense Danny and send him telepathic messages from miles away. She also quickly becomes aware of the True Knot’s evil intentions and tries her best to stop them in their child-killing tracks.
Her most kick-ass moment is when she takes on Rose the Hat while Rose is astral projecting, and lays a trap that even Rose doesn’t see coming.
8. Wendy Torrance from The Shining (1980)
Sticking with The Shining universe, we have one of the best examples of protective mothers with Wendy Torrance. Even before they head to the Overlook Hotel, Wendy has to deal with a lot. Jack drinks, he’s been fired from his job, and in the past, he’s accidentally broken Danny’s arm.
When they get to the hotel, Wendy ends up doing most of the caretaking job herself, while Jack tries to cure his writer’s block. Then Wendy has to take on Jack solo when it becomes clear his sanity has finally slipped.
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Even when Jack is coming at her with an axe, Wendy makes sure Danny escapes to safety before fighting Jack off by herself.
7. Amber Méndez from The Running Man (1987)
Amber is a composer who works for ICS, the TV network which broadcasts The Running Man, a show which follows convicts fighting for their life and their freedom against pun-fuelled ‘stalkers.’ Her life is nothing special until she gets mixed up with Ben Richards, a man wrongly accused of a crime.
Amber is initially wary of Ben and alerts airport security after he tries to kidnap her. However, when Amber finds out that Ben was telling the truth, she starts investigating further, ending up part of the game herself.
Once inside the game, she teams up with Ben, and they manage to defeat all the ‘stalkers’ and take The Running Man off the air for good.
6. Holly Gibney from The Outsider (2020)
When a child abduction and murder case doesn’t seem to add up, the local police decide to bring in savant private investigator Holly Gibney to help them figure out what is going on. Holly faces resistance right from the get-go, as those who haven’t worked with her previously and aren’t familiar with her ways initially write her off and don’t believe in her talent.
However, Holly proves herself extremely useful when her matter-of-fact way of thinking and investigating means she finds out what’s going on quicker than most horror investigators and never questions herself. Her firm resolve helps convince the others as well, so they are as prepared as possible when it comes to fighting the monster head-on.
5. Annie Wilkes from Misery (1990)
This list is not just the people on the side of good, as proven by the fact Annie Wilkes is perhaps one of the scariest and most sadistic villains in any of King’s books. However, for a villain that’s a regular person rather than one that’s boosted by anything supernatural, Annie does a fantastic job of terrorizing the author Paul Sheldon.
Annie is Paul’s biggest fan, and when she finds him injured in a car wreck, she takes him back to her house to nurse him back to health. However, Annie wants Paul to act exactly the way she wants him to, including rewriting his latest novel and staying immobilized in her guest room.
Annie is the perfect villain because, from the outside, she doesn’t give off a threatening image. Even Paul doesn’t realize the lengths she’s willing to do until she’s knocking his ankles the wrong way with a sledgehammer.
4. Rachel Creed from Pet Sematary (1989)
Rachel has to deal with an extraordinary amount of things before Pet Sematary comes to its grisly conclusion. After moving out to the middle of nowhere so her husband, Louis, can take a new job, the couple then loses their young son, Gage, in a road accident. She then has to deal with Louis discovering the Native American burial ground’s powers and keeping the whole thing a secret from her.
Louis sends her across the country to her parent’s house so he can carry out his plan of reanimating Gage in secret. Rachel is already feeling alone and distant from her husband, but between her gut instinct and Ellie’s run-in with the ghostly Victor Pascow, she knows she has to get back to the family home.
Rachel travels all night, using various forms of transport, and with a bit of ghostly assistance, makes it back to the house. Even if she is too late to stop Louis, Rachel’s dedication to her family and her belief in what Ellie tells her makes her a powerful character in the King universe.
3. Jessie Burlingame from Gerald’s Game (2017)
While the movie may be named after her husband, Gerald’s Game’s real focus is Jessie and her story. After Gerald handcuffs Jessie to their holiday home’s bed, he rather rudely dies and leaves her stranded.
While Jessie’s initial reaction is to panic and give up, her stronger alter ego tries to help her find a way to realize her inner strength and escape. As well as being trapped, Jessie also has to deal with the memories of her past abuse surfacing, a dog with a taste for human flesh, and a shadowy figure appearing in her room at night.
In the end, Jessie proves how amazing she is and how strong her will to live is by degloving her hand to escape. It’s a brutal scene, but the blood and gore are worth it to show how tough Jessie is when she believes in herself.
2. Rose the Hat from Doctor Sleep (2019)
Our second villain on the list is the fantastic, beautiful, and mystical Rose the Hat. She may be the leader of a group of child-killing energy vampires, but there’s something about Rose that makes you enjoy every moment you spend with her.
She’s smart, powerful, and does whatever she needs to keep her followers fed and alive. She’s also one of the strongest villains in the King universe, and almost defeats Danny when they fight at the film’s climax. She’s only defeated because Danny uses the hotel’s ghosts against her, which she couldn’t possibly have seen coming.
She also has the most beautiful camper van I have ever seen in a film, and I’m incredibly jealous of it.
1. Young Beverly Marsh from IT (1990)
Every member of the Losers Club is terrific; however, young Beverly Marsh is my favorite and number one on this list. As well as having to deal with Pennywise trying to murder her and her friends, Beverly has to overcome a lot of adversary in her everyday life as well.
She lives with her abusive father, and everything she does is under his scrutiny. This means it’s hard for her to make friends, and so joining the Losers Club gives her the escape she needs. Knowing that the boys can see the blood that continually fills her bathroom sink lets her know she isn’t alone anymore and helps her realize how amazingly strong she is.
When the young Losers Club heads into the sewers, Beverly is the hero with the slingshot and manages to take the chunk out of Pennywise, which sends him back into hiding for 27 years. Mini-series Beverly will always be my idol, and proof that you’re never too young to start kicking butt.
Who’s your favorite badass woman from the Kingverse? Did we leave any off of this list? Let us know on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook page!